Jul 302012

If you are looking for the best video card for gaming within your budget look no further. Whether you are playing Diablo 3, Battlefield 3, Skyrim or something else there is a video card for your budget. Please note all prices are US dollars. We will be doing these guides every 6 months or so (Summer and Winter).

Please note that exact prices will likely fluctuate depending when you are reading this article.

Best Video Card for under $100

AMD Radeon 6670 1GB GDDR5

Available for around $90, the 6670 will run most games pretty well at 1680×1050 resolution. You might have to run more modern games at medium settings to get smooth frame rates, but it’s all you can really expect for a budget card. Diablo 3 should run on high settings at 1680×1050 or below. For something like Battlefield 3 expect to run at medium settings or less to get consistent frame rates.

Buying options: Asus 6670 for $88 @ Amazon or SAPPHIRE 6670 for $93 @ NewEgg

Even cheaper! The DDR3 memory version of the 6670 can be had for as little as $69 at Amazon, though for less performance than the superior GDDR5 version mentioned above.

Best Video Card for under $150

AMD Radeon 7770 -or- nVidia GTX 560 SE

Both the Radeon 7770 and GTX 560 SE will give you good performance at a 1920×1080 resolution. Most games will run at High detail above 30fps. Both cards are good choices so it will mostly come down to either brand preference or whatever you can find cheapest.

Radeon 7770 options: PowerColor 7770 for $130 @ Amazon or ASUS Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition for $130 @ NewEgg

GTX 560SE options: EVGA GeForce GTX560 SE for $120 @ Amazon or Zotac GTX 560 SE for $130 @ NewEgg

Right at $150: The Radeon 6850 is even better though it’s usually $150 or slightly more. Options: Sapphire 6850 for $150 @ Amazon or MSI Cyclone 6850 for $150 at NewEgg

Best Video Card for under $200

AMD Radeon 6870 -or- nVidia GTX 560

These cards will handle any modern game out there at the 1080p resolution. You may not be able to run everything at Ultra settings but they will get the job done. The GTX 560 (not to be confused with the more expensive 560ti) is essentially an overclocked GTX 460. The reason the 460 isn’t in this list is because sadly its been phased out, though for a long time it was a price/performance ratio king. The Radeon 6870 gives similar performance if you prefer an AMD card.

Radeon 6870 options: Sapphire 6850 for $170 at Amazon or XFX 6870 for $175 at NewEgg

GTX 560 options: EVGA GTX 560 for $175 @ Amazon or Gigabyte GTX 560 for $180 @ NewEgg

Best Video Card for under $250

AMD Radeon 7850 or nVidia GTX 570

Now we are getting into high performance territory. Between these two cards, the performance is around the same however the 7850 has 2GB of video memory compared to only 1.25GB on the GTX 570. If you don’t plan on running higher than 1920×1080 any time soon the 1.25GB is probably fine, but the 7850 is more future proof if you do not upgrade cards frequently. The price of the 570 plumetted about $100 when the GTX 680 was released. It is an extremely capable card, overclocked you can reach GTX 580 performance quite easily.

Radeon 7850 options: MSI 7850 Twin Frozr for $250 at Amazon or PowerColor 7850 for $250 at NewEgg

GTX 570 options: MSI GTX 570 Twin Frozr for $250 at Amazon or NewEgg

Best Video Card for under $350

AMD Radeon 7950

The 7950 equipped with 3GB of memory is the first card I can safely say is ready for 2560×1440/2560×1600 performance. It will scream at 1920×1080 in Ultra settings in every game. If the GTX 670 (next section) is just a hair out of your budget, this is definitely the card to get!

Buying options: Gigabyte 7950 for $340 at Amazon or Sapphire 7950 for $350 at NewEgg

Best Video Card for Under $400

nVidia GTX 670

The GTX 670 is a very special card. It does 90% of the performance of its big brother and current single GPU king, the GTX 680, but for $100 less. This card will run every game with every setting maxed and will continue to run your games well for a long time.

Buying options: EVGA GTX 670 FTW Edition for $400 at Amazon or Gigabyte GTX 670 for $400 at NewEgg

I want to spend more!

Well OK then, Mr. or Mrs. Money-bags! In the $500 range your best bet is a nVidia GTX 680 but keep in mind for $100 less you can get the GTX 670 which is not much slower. But if you absolutely must have the best single GPU card currently out there, take a look at the Gigabyte GTX 680 at Amazon or the EVGA GTX 680 at NewEgg.

If you want to spend $1000 on a single card your only option is the GTX 690 which is essentially two GTX 680’s on one card. EVGA is the only vendor with a 690. It’s $1000 at Amazon or NewEgg.

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